China / Education

Chinese children learning English earlier: survey

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-05-27 16:53

BEIJING - Chinese parents are having their children learn English earlier, according to a survey published by the China Youth Daily on Friday.

English has been introduced in primary schools, but more parents are starting their children on the second language before the age of five.

Nearly 70 percent of the 2,003 respondents reported that their own children or children they know started learning English before five years old, mainly due to Chinese parents' fixation on giving children an early advantage.

Another major reason is that parents believe it is more effective to cultivate children's language skills at an early age.

Many parents send their kids to early childhood English-language learning institutions, though they can be pricey. Some 39 percent of respondents said parents pay between 10,000 ($1,524) and 20,000 yuan annually to such institutions.

Fu Lili, a mother of a four year old, said learning institutions with native English-speaking teachers can charge higher prices.

Yet not all parents have faith in such institutions, as more than 20 percent of the total said they have seen little effect on children's learning.

Shi Longwei, associate professor of education at Southwest University, said it is more important for children to have the freedom to grow and develop their own interest. "Even in English-speaking countries, kids in kindergarten are only taught to recognize the 26 letters."

Zhong Guangyi, a Beijing-based freelance photographer, has decided to develop her two-year-old daughter's English at home with her husband.

"Home schooling is not only more focused on the child than learning institutions, but also leads to more parent-children interaction," said Zhong, who also runs a WeChat account promoting early reading.

She added that in China's first and second-tier cities, where highly educated parents tend to concentrate, it is more common to see parents teach their children at home.

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